The Early Decision I (ED I) numbers are in and the University has once again seen an increase in applications—a hike of about five percent, from 500 last year to approximately 523 this year. The increase is up from the nine-person drop last year but not as large a spike as in 2008, when ED I applications shot up 35 percent.
Though the number of African American students applying ED I decreased this year by 44 percent, from 27 to 15 students, Senior Associate Dean of Admission Greg Pyke noted that student of color (SOC) applicants distribute themselves differently each year and SOC applications increased overall by 35 percent, from 79 to 107 students. There was also a 10 percent increase in public school applicants, from 259 to 285 students, and a 20 percent increase in students applying for financial aid, from 194 to 232 students. Pyke believes these are positive indications that students understand the University’s commitment to meeting a student’s full demonstrated need in their financial aid package.
“We have tried really hard to get out the message that you’re going to get your financial aid award at the same time you get your admission offer, and because financial aid is need-based and we meet 100 percent of the demonstrated need, you will be able to afford a Wesleyan education,” he said. “We also say that if we don’t make it affordable—if your way of looking at what’s affordable is different than ours—then we’ll release you from that Early Decision commitment.”
The University has also seen a 45 percent increase in international students applying ED I, from 11 to 16 students. Of the 16 students, more than half are from countries in Asia, and China has the largest number of international ED I applicants to Wesleyan. Though the change seems small, Pyke pointed out that since most foreign students only know about Ivy League colleges or larger schools like University of Michigan or University of California, Berkeley, this increase is significant.
“For Wesleyan to be seeing this kind of increase in serious early interest from international students is really encouraging,” he said. “I think some of this increase is directly due to the Freeman Asian Scholars Program. That has meant that there are adults in all those countries who can talk about their Wesleyan education.”
The Office of Admission believes that the overall increase in applications was due to a number of factors. They had predicted that application numbers would rise after Admission staff reported seeing more students at their school visits and college fairs throughout the country.
“Wesleyan has a really well-established reputation on the East Coast and West Coast,” said Pyke. “But outside of that, Wesleyan is still not as well known as other schools. So for us to see increased interest in places like Illinois or Minnesota is significant.”
Pyke also noted that increased awareness of the University could have come from alumni success in entertainment or athletic fields, which draws significant attention to the school.
The Admissions staff has also been doing more traveling and outreach in an attempt to increase interest among prospective students. Additionally, by holding interviews in the Office of Admission, they encourage students to visit campus before applying.
The academic quality of the applicants is similar to that of previous years, with testing scores and academic rankings staying roughly equal. The distribution of academic interests is also similar to what it has been in the past, with continuing strong interest in the University’s science programs. Though final decisions have not been made for all students yet, the number of ED I applicants offered admission will be consistent with past years.
“I would be hopeful that we’d have about the same number of students admitted,” Pyke said. “We don’t have a quota or a ceiling for it, and the size and quality of the pool is consistent with last year.”
Predicting regular application numbers has become more difficult this year. After pressure to make all forms part of the Common Application, the University has switched from a separate pre-application on its website to a supplement on the Common App website. The Admission Office is forecasting regular application numbers by looking at the number of students who have started a Common App designated for Wesleyan, which is not highly accurate because many students will start their applications very late, and many other students may delete an application after getting into another school early.
“It’s hard to compare, but it appears that applications in general are running roughly five percent ahead of last year,” Pyke said. “I would predict that if we look back five years from now, we would see a pattern of increase, but whether it will be an increase every single year, it’s hard to say.”